Added to Case Law, ECJ
AG Opinion 06-05-2010
In a preliminary ruling referred to the European Court of Justice by the High Court of Justice England and Wales, advocate general Kokott stated in her opinion that the EU limit on metallic fuel additive MMT in petrol, adopted in the revised fuel quality Directive 98/70/EC, does not violate the EU principles on equal treatment and proportionality as well as the precautionary principle. With Directive 98/70, the EU introduced strict limits and labelling requirements for the use of the metallic additive MMT in fear that they present a danger to human health and emission control. The British MMT producer Afton Chemical challenged the limit in the High Court of England and Wales arguing that those fears are unfounded and that the limits therefore breach various principles of EU law, in particular, the precautionary principle, the principle of proportionality and the principle of equality. Kokott concluded that the EC gives great importance to protection of health, safety, environment and consumers. Consequently, preventing risks that the use of MMT poses upon human health and the environment should be recognised as objectives of the limits outweighing the economic interest of Afton Chemical.
Added to Sectors, General
The European Commission has launched environmental infringement actions against several Member States. Ireland is among these Member States and has received a final warning for failing to comply with an ECJ ruling from May 2007 in which Ireland was urged to make sure that its fish and farm development undergo environmental impact assessment before approval as required under Directive 2003/4/EC.
Italy and Spain have been taken to the ECJ over two long-running cases involving breaches on urban wastewater treatment Directive 91/271/EEC. Both countries had to put in place adequate systems for collecting and treating waste water in urban areas with more than 15,000 inhabitants by 31 December 2000. However Italy still has178 towns and Spain 38 towns where the waste water treatment is not up to EU standards. In a separate case, a second and final warning has been sent to Italy for breaching air quality legislation Directive 2008/50/EC by exceeding the limit values for dangerous airborne particles known as PM10. These particles have been linked to asthma, lunch cancer and premature death. Therefore the Commission requires Member States to take the limits seriously.
The Commission is also pursuing legal action against Hungary, Portugal and Romania for breaching nature protection legislation. Hungary is receiving a second and final written warning about its failure to protect the Sajólád Wood in the east of the country as well as for wider problems concerning the implementation of Natura 2000 in its national legislation. Portugal is also being sent a final warning with regards to its inadequate impact assessment for its tourist resort development in the south of the country. Romania is receiving a first written warning over inadequate application of EU nature law. Greece is being sent a second and final written warning for failing to implement the necessary legal protection and conservation framework for one of Europe’s most important wetlands Lake Koroneia in the region of Thessaloniki. In all the cases, if the necessary steps are not taken, the Commission could refer the case to the ECJ.
According to a UN press release on the third edition of Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) produced by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the current state of biodiversity and the implications of its continued loss for human well-being indicate that radical action is required in order to prevent the natural systems from rapidly degrading and collapsing. GBO-3 confirms that the target set by world governments in 2002 “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level,” has not been met. The report suggests that this is because no sub targets were set for the 2010 goal to tackle the underlying causes or indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such as patterns of consumption. GBO-3 concludes that the continued loss of biodiversity can no longer be considered as an issue separate from the core concerns of society. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon stated that “to tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, we must give it higher priority in all areas of decision making and in all economic sectors.” The report makes recommendations for a new global strategy to be considered at the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD in Japan in October 2010. The strategy includes addressing underlying causes and awareness-raising in order to ensure that everyone understands the value of biodiversity.
Added to Sectors, Air
The European Commission has rejected the request send by the Bulgarian government for derogations from its obligations under Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air for five of its large combustion plants. Under the 2001 LCP directive, power plants with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts or more are obliged to comply with emission limits. Certain plants can opt out and Bulgaria already enjoys derogations for four power plants. Without derogations, the coal-fired power plants have to close down and Bulgaria fears that this will risk the electric and heat supply in the south of the country which will lead to the closure of adjacent mines. Therefore, Bulgaria demanded protective measures under article 36 of its EU accession treaty in December 2009 arguing that upgrading the plants will cause serious economic difficulties. Such difficulties are however related to compliance with EU environmental legislation and are not a consequence of the EU’s internal market. The aim of article 36 is to temporarily lighten effects of the rules on the country’s economy, it does however not allow derogations in other policy areas such as environmental legislation. Since the alleged difficulties do not concern a consequence related to EU’s internal market or concern a short- term difficulties, the application falls outside of the scope of Article 36 and is rejected as inadmissible.
Following the latest data compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA), an estimated half of the EU member states are likely to miss one or more of the legal limits set by the National Emission Ceilings Directive (Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants). The NEC Directive provides for legally binding emission ceilings (limits) for four main air pollutants e.g. sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants are harmful for human health as well as for the environment by contributing to the formation of ozone. Member states must meet the NEC Directive’s ceilings by 2010 in order to deliver the originally agreed health and environmental benefits but this is not likely to happen. Of the four covered pollutants, member states face the biggest challenge in meeting the emission limits for NOx. Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Spain are expected to exceed their NOx ceilings by more than 10%. Germany, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK, are likely to exceed their ceilings by less than 10%. According to the EEA, this is partially due to an unexpected growth in the road transport sector which is a significant contributor and to vehicle emission standards that have not delivered the foreseen level of NOx reduction. National ceilings for NMVOC are expected to be missed by Spain, Portugal and Austria. Caps on methane emissions are expected to be exceeded by the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. The emission ceiling for SO2 is expected to be missed by only Malta. According to the EEA data, Spain is expected to face the highest amount of breaches by exceeding the ceilings of three out of the four pollutants. The EEA data did present some improvements, namely with regards to the Netherlands which was previously expected to miss its cap on NOx but is now predicted to comply. Poland is also expected to achieve all its target despites its earlier concern on not meeting its NOx and NMVOC caps. Proposals for the tightening of the national air pollutants have not been tabled yet.
Added to Sectors, Transport
Following negotiations with the European Parliament, the Council adopted its position at first reading agreement on a proposal for a Directive on the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in the field of road transport. ITS is indented to enhance road safety and improve transport efficiency whereby reducing the environmental impact of transport. The draft Directive aims to reduce congestion and cut in carbon dioxide emissions by creating the necessary conditions and mechanisms through a coherent EU framework. The agreement was endorsed by the Council earlier this week and will now be transmitted to the Parliament for a second reading to take place in June. If the Parliament backs the text, it will be considered as an adopted directive. Member states can decide whether or not to deploy an ITS application, however, they must respect the specifications adopted under the directive.
Added to Sectors, Waste
According to preliminary findings of an industry study presented at the European Parliament, reducing the use of plastics in Europe can lead to an increase in the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions presenting a challenging view on the negative perceptions of plastics. The study is based on a carbon lifecycle analysis of plastics compared with alternative materials. It finds that substituting plastics with alternative materials will generate 3.7 more mass which also means more waste. It would also lead to 50% more greenhouse gas emissions and 46% more energy use. Furthermore, the study shows that plastics represent 1.3% of Europe’s carbon footprint which is a very limited proportion. The carbon balance e.g. the ratio of the carbon intensity of production in relation to benefits throughout the lifecycle is currently in the range of 5-9 and is also expected to improve to 9-15 by 2020.
Added to Upcoming Events
This two day conference will bring together a panel of experts of waste management organizations, utilities, governments and technology providers in order to provide an essential briefing and update on the current state of the nuclear interim storage. Topics such as strategies for a safe storage of spent fuel and moving toward a centralized interim will be covered.
Location: Dexter House, London, United Kingdom
Date: 18-19 May 2010
This major global bioenergy get-together is based on the unique “Taking you from Know-How to Show-How” concept. It will combine conference sessions, field excursions and tradeshow into one comprehensive event in order to blend academic research with commercial experience providing a better business context. The overall purpose of World Bioenergy is to promote the implementation of bioenergy technologies.
Location: Elmia, Jönköping, Sweden
Date: 25-27 May 2010
SETAC is Europe’s biggest meeting on environmental toxicology and chemistry with more than 1500 presentations in parallel platform sessions and poster sessions, participants and scientific speakers from academia, business and government and a blend of scientists and practioners, researchers and regulators all in attendance. The overall objective of the conference is to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity.
Location: Avda Alcalde Luis Uruñuela 1, Seville, Spain
Date: 23-27 May 2010
Added to Vacancies
The Energy Community Secretariat is looking for a qualified professional at the position of an energy lawyer who is interested in an international employment opportunity and committed to the core values of its institution which consist of professionalism, integrity and cultural sensitivity. Main tasks and responsibilities will include reviewing compliance by the contracting parties, overall monitoring and contributing to the enforcement of the contract.
Deadline: 14 June 2010
Allen and York, a specialist provider of Recycling Services in the South East of England, is currently looking for an experienced candidate to manage their site operations with responsibility for a large work force and all aspects of the safe working of the site including logistics scheduling, process management and improvement and staff management. Successful candidates will have a strong track record in a similar waste or manufacturing environment with proven ability to run a safe and effective site.
Location: Kent, United Kingdom
Deadline: Not provided. Job posted on 30 April 2010
Wybe Th. Douma (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Jens Hamer (Court of First Instance of the European Community, Luxemburg)*
* All views expressed are entirely personal and can in no way be attributed to the General Court or ECJ
Leonardo Massai (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Iram Velji (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Marco van der Harst (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)